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An unexpected journey: The Adventures With Bontle story

It was back in early 2019 when I felt a strong inclination to start building something solid for Bontle. With that thought, I created a folder called Bontle’s Empire on my laptop. I didn’t know precisely what that would look like but it excited me and filled with me great hope about what was to come. I was toying with a couple of ideas but definitely not a publishing brand. As the year went by, our trips to the bookstores turned into the unexpected.

Young girl picking out a book in a book store
Bontle book browsing

So ever since Bontle was young, we had this tradition of going into the bookstores every time we visited a mall or shopping centre. One unassuming day, mid book browsing, Bontle asked me a question that changed the trajectory of our lives. Growing up, she was always curious and eager. She was strong willed and always spoke her mind. She questioned things - a lot.

The early days... The Eye Book was one of six books we bought for her when she was just a couple of months old to teach her how to read.

On this particular day, she crept out of the children’s section, holding a book she was considering buying and asked “Mom, who writes children’s books?” I remember this conversation so vividly. We were at the Exclusive Books store at Menlyn Mall.


Here’s how the conversation went:

A conversation between mom and daughter about publishing
The Dream Dialogue

After that “ok”, she went back to her book browsing. My conversations with Bontle have always been characterised by the intent to inspire and encourage but truly speaking, when we left the store that day, I didn’t think anything would materialise from that conversation. But it did…

Play time reading adventures with her favourite dolls

One random day, at 6 years, she came running to my bedroom, screaming excitedly:

Mama, I finally have a story!

“Is it? Let me hear it.” I said in a courteous Mommy tone.


Bontle: “please record it as I speak Mama.”


I took my phone and typed away as she narrated. The excitement and joy in her eyes and voice warmed my soul. I knew then that I needed to play my part and do what I’d promised - publish the story.

As the months progressed, she had inspiration for other stories. At this point, Bontle was still learning how to read and write so I showed her the voice recorder app and this is where she’d go to record her stories - at her own time, whenever the inspiration bug bit.


I think in her head, she had anticipated to see her books roll out as quickly as she was telling the stories. But I didn’t quite prioritise the project until her nudges became louder and louder. At one point she started becoming impatient and I think she was possibly wrestling with whether what I told her was true or not.


Side note: I think this is why she unintentionally threw me under the bus on this Morning Live interview 😅)


Anyway, I knew then that I needed to show her that it was indeed possible. That I had told her the truth.


With the help of a friend and colleague, we got the first story illustrated. The idea was to work towards surprising Bontle on her 7th birthday with a copy of her book. When I first saw the illustrations, I couldn’t believe it. I was completely in awe. I couldn’t contain my excitement so I showed Bontle the book. Her expression solidified the goal for me!


It is possible!

Showing her the book albeit at the risk of spoiling the surprise was important so she can give inputs on the final product.



This video was taken on the day we went to collect the first copies. DREAMS COME TRUE: Book Collection Day | First copies of The Oceanic Oxy Rescue Mission. She’d asked that we print out 4 copies: for herself, her class teacher, her school and one for me.


Out of excitement, we uploaded pictures on social media with a caption that included words and phrases such as “published author”, “dreams come true”, “storyteller”, “young author”. I think people shared this excitement and that’s why orders started coming in. Despite not going into it with sales as the ultimate goal, we had no reason to decline so we officially opened for preorders.



The rest is history they say, but actually, history is about to be made because the adventure journey continues. Bontle has ideas for what her empire looks like and as her parents, we are doing our best to support her dreams. We are self-funded so ours has been a process that requires lots of patience and navigating hard knocks on doors we hope will open up great opportunities for Bontle. We know that the big dreams she has will come true soon.


To date, Bontle is a beacon of hope and and inspiration to both young and old. She continues to challenge norms and inspires us to believe in change, innovation equity and equality. In a world where children aren’t particularly heard or their interests heeded with care and consideration, we see her as an advocate for every child in the world who needs someone to believe in them. Equally so, we see her as a relatable example for parents to emphasise what CAN happen when they believe in their children and support them in their endeavours. Like Magic Johnson says: "All kids need is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them."

Some cherished moments...
"Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth. For what they believe is what they will become.” - Brooke Hampton

As we journey on to rewrite the narrative of an African child, we invite you to travel with us to inspire, and to be inspired by the possibilities of what may seem impossible.

Young author with a book, wearing a t-shirt with The Future is Ours slogan
Bontle with latest book, Nyla and the magician

The adventure continues…



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4 Comments


I felt that “OK” and she says it with confidence all the time. Let the adventure continue 🥂🥂

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Refilwe
Refilwe
a day ago
Replying to

You know her too well 😅 let the adventure begin indeed 🙌🏽

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Bravo to Bontle and kudos to you for discerning her calling to be an author. Here's to many many books by this amazing author. The future looks bright!

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Refilwe
Refilwe
4 days ago
Replying to

Bravo to B indeed 🙌🏽 thank you so much Abo. We appreciate your support.

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